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Congo President Begins Forming New Government


The Democratic Republic of Congo's newly elected leader, Joseph Kabila, is trying to figure out how to form a new government while keeping promises made to various parties during the election period. Some groups say the coalitions and commitments are creating obstacles to the country's political progress. Kari Barber reports from our West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

Joseph Kabila was elected as the Democratic Republic of Congo's president in a run-off poll on October 29, after much bargaining with opposition parties to garner their support.

After his inauguration on December 6 he has found reconciling those alliances a difficult task.

Antoine Gizenga was the third-place candidate in the initial round of the presidential election. In an effort to add to his base, Mr. Kabila asked Gizenga to join his alliance of parties in the final round against Jean-Pierre Bemba. Mr. Kabila offered Gizenga the position of prime minister for his support.

But Mr. Kabila has appointed Gizenga to the position of what is called "Informant".

In the DRC's constitution an informant is in charge of identifying the majority parties in the National Assembly. From these parties the president then selects the prime minister who in turn would organize the new government.

Gizenga accepted the position, which still could result in his appointment as prime minister. The veteran politician has up to two months to sort out who represents which party in parliament.

Gizenga says choosing a prime minister and forming the new government will take some time. Many parties contested elections for the new parliament, and many candidates won as independents or members of loose coalitions.

Members of Gizenga's party have said they would like key ministries in the new government and that they hope some of Mr. Kabila's controversial aides will not be included.

Mr. Kabila has been president since 2001 when he was installed by the military after his father was assassinated.

Hubert Efole is part of the RCD, a former rebel movement turned political party. He says the wrangling over election promises and the delay in naming a prime minister is a result of the fragile alliances Mr. Kabila built.

Efole says these complications are to be expected when so many parties are sharing power.

The international community has provided thousands of peacekeepers and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to help with the election process. The large mineral-rich country has been the cause of repeated regional wars. In his inauguration speech, Mr. Kabila promised to end years of conflict, misrule, and plundering of natural resources.

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